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Front Page » March 1, 2007 » Home and Garden Focus » Building a personal tool collection
Published 3,107 days ago

Building a personal tool collection

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A cordless drill is easy to maneuver when assembling projects like bookshelves and cabinetry.

Some might say that a do-it-yourselfer's work is only as strong as the tools he uses on the job. The right tools can help ensure smooth sailing through a project, while not being adequately equipped can make a job that much harder.

An investment in quality tools is one that will reap rewards through the years and come in especially handy for home fixups or other projects where wood is the main component. That's why the experts have put together this must-have list to build a personal tool collection.

•A cordless drill. Cordless drills are versatile tools that in addition to boring holes can be used for a variety of screwing and fastening applications. These tools can make fast work of fastening where doing it by hand would be tedious. Cordless drills are lightweight and are more portable than the corded versions.

•A sander. Sanding and smoothing is a common step required in woodworking and can often "make or break" final finishing of a project. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a hand-held and stationary sander in your tool arsenal. Hand-held sanders are easily manipulated around projects, while the material to be sanded is moved around discs, belts, or drums on stationary units. Belt sanders are most used for fast, aggressive material removal during the initial stages of the sanding process. Orbital and random orbit sanders are used for final surface finishing or for times when light sanding is required.

•A table saw. For serious woodworkers, a table saw is a necessity. Because of its versatility, where large machinery is concerned, a table saw is one of the most coveted pieces of equipment.

The saw consists of a circular blade mounted from under a table. Using a fence and saw's table top, pieces of wood can be dimensioned in width by feeding the wood through the blade. Using the saw's miter gauge and corresponding slots in the table top surface, wood can be cut to length in a 90 degree cross cutting operation. Miter gauges, depending on the angle setting of the gauge, offer the added benefit of cross cuts, like a 45-degree angle that would be used to build a picture frame.

A "contractor" style table saw is often the saw of choice for do-it-yourselfers, while a "cabinet" style saw is for the professional or serious woodworker.

•A router. While routers are most often used for quick and easy cutting of decorative edges on wooden surfaces, their use actually extends far beyond this. When used with accessory bushings or handmade templates, the router can be used to duplicate patterns, cut signs, or create dovetails. Plunge routers provide the added capability of "plunging" a bit into the wood surface, to create a precisely machined hole in the wood. The router can become a stationary tool when combined with a table and fence system. In this set up the fence is used in a manner similar to the table saw and material is maneuvered by hand through the cutter.

Once the tool collection is in place, skills can be honed on projects that will put those tools to the test. Woodcraft offers a number of step-by-step plans for wood projects. Projects vary from fences to bookcases and shelving to toy chests for children.

While the old adage, "measure twice, cut once" is one that all woodworkers understand, in the beginning, purchase a little extra wood to compensate for minor mistakes that might be made as experience is gained on the new tools acquired.

Remember, when engaging in work with any tools, whether power or manual, it is important to practice safety at all times. Shield the eyes with protective eyewear and use soundproofing ear protection when exposed to power tools in operation.

One of the most important safety precautions when working with power tools is the understanding of how to properly operate the machine. Always read and follow the instructions in the operation manual that accompanies your machine.

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